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A technology education teacher's road to national board certification: a dedicated professional teacher takes pride in the importance of his or her craft and continually makes strides to improve.

Every public school teacher's professional career will eventually come to an end, but the natural process of reflecting on one s career will last the rest of his/her life. When that time arrives to reflect, I would like to have good memories and extreme pride of accomplishment both for myself and my students. As most of us know, success for our students' academic careers takes many hours of hard work and dedication. This time spent helping our students-during the regular school day and also on weekends away from our families throughout the school year and parts of the summers (national TSA conferences)--helps to prepare our students for school and for their career and technical organization competitive events. Student learning experiences associated with the "FIRST" organization and also the Technology Student Association, of which I am a local chapter advisor, help students "foster personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering. We help our students apply and integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts through cocurricular activities, competitive events, and related programs" (www.tsaweb.org/Our-Mission).

Dedication to profession can be defined by each individual teacher. If a person desires to become a teacher, he/she should have an innate desire to dedicate his/her life to that profession. Dedication should be supplemented with the ability to mold students, to be innovative, to continuously reinvent oneself, and to be a lifelong learner. The profession of teaching should be a conscious, thoughtful decision. You are cheating yourself if you enter the teaching profession by chance. I believe that a dedicated professional teacher takes pride in the importance of his or her craft and continually makes strides to improve. This includes discovering new methods of teaching and practicing various learning experiences relevant for students. Applying to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards would help me achieve an ultimate goal of becoming a better teacher. One of the core goals of the NBCT is to assist teachers in bettering themselves through the process of self-reflection.

National Board Certification has evolved as the gold standard in accomplished teaching and excellence because of its Five Core Propositions:

* Teachers are committed to students and their learning.

* Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.

* Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

* Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.

* Teachers are members of learning communities.

This architecture of accomplished teaching is depicted in the illustration above (www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/ national_board_certification/11301).

"National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. It complements, but does not replace, a state's teacher license. National Board Certification is achieved upon successful completion of a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do. National Board Certification is available nationwide for most preK-12 teachers. As part of the certification process, candidates complete ten assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certificate areas. The assessments include four portfolio entries that feature teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge" (www.nbpts.org/become a candidate/what_is_national_board_c).

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Joseph A. Aguerrebere, President and Chief Executive Officer, NBPTS, stated, "Like board-certified medical doctors, National Board Certified Teachers have met high standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review" (www.nbpts.org/).

The certificate area that I selected for my portfolio is called "Career and Technical Education/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood." This certificate is appropriate for teachers who teach career and technical subjects to students ages 11-18+ and who know industry-specific subject matter. Candidates are required to select one of eight specialty area clusters. Again, I selected the cluster area that most closely reflects my teaching certification--"technology education."

I did not approach this task lightly. I sought information from faculty from my school district, especially those who had successfully attained board certification within the Southern Lehigh (PA) School District. They explained that the process of national board certification would be long and tedious, but well worth it. They explained that there would be times I would feel frustrated with the process of completing the portfolio entries. The portfolio rubrics are time-consuming and exacting. Adhering to them becomes complicated at times. Eliciting help from those experts sometimes conflicted with the time and work that I already put into the portfolio entries, which became frustrating, but I had to persevere and keep a positive attitude. This was coupled with the fact that I am a single father, which is also a full-time job. Normally, what a two-parent household does to raise a healthy child and create a happy home, I do myself after losing my wife Cindy a few years ago due to complications with cancer. Samantha has been doing a great job of raising me. I mention this personal aspect of the certification process because I want teachers reading this article to understand the number of hours it will take to successfully complete all ten sections of the portfolio. On average, it takes 300-400 hours of a teacher's time to complete.

As all good and dedicated teachers can attest, our schedules are very hectic. Student assignments and tests need to be graded and returned to the students in a reasonable amount of time. Some of us spend many hours advising students who are associated with different career and technical organizations (CTO), rewriting curriculum, and completing numerous other responsibilities related to school on a daily basis. Forty minutes of preparation time is not sufficient when working on the requirements for the portfolio. Much of our time is spent reflecting on lessons and rewriting our lesson plans. I learned early in the process that I needed to adjust my time-management skills both at school and at home.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, specifically singled out the nation's board-certified teachers during a discussion about evaluating the teaching profession when he said, "I just want to say 'congratulations' to all of the new National Board Certified Teachers. I know how tough that process is. It's a tremendous amount of hard work, but you are some of the best teachers in the country getting better. I think the example of being a lifelong learner, of challenging yourself to continue to improve even when you are already so good, is an amazing example for our students" (www.nbpts.org/).

To be successful in attaining national board certification, applicants will write lesson plans, videotape their selected classroom teaching lessons, compile and submit their students' work, and arrange a time to complete the six computerized assessments at a local assessment center. These should be designed following the specific standards and rubrics set up by NBPTS, which are listed in the instruction manual. As mentioned earlier, one of my reflection goals when I retire is to have a sense of pride in the accomplishments of my career, and also realize that I have had a positive impact on the academic growth of my students. Any learning and professional development that is designed to make me a better teacher would be an asset to my students.

Those teachers who have successfully attained certification understand that losing sleep is a side effect in the process of national board certification. I found myself waking up in the early mornings at approximately 2:00-3:00am each weekend for six months to work on my portfolio. The many hours spent at home early in the mornings provided an opportunity to complete my research and write and rewrite drafts of each exercise of the portfolio. I needed to find time, while my daughter slept, to concentrate fully without the responsibilities pertaining to my teaching career.

The following overview was extracted from the NBPTS portfolio instructions. These are the four written sections of the portfolio that require many hours of research and writing.

Overview of Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education Portfolio Entries

Entry 1

In the Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education portfolio, the entry based on student work samples is "Entry 1: Assessment of Student Learning" In this entry, you select two assessments related to a unified area of career and technical study, drawn from different points in time, that differ from one another in structure or form, and that you use in your career and technical education instruction to evaluate students' understanding. You select the responses of two students to each of these assessments and submit a Written Commentary in which you describe, analyze, and evaluate the student work and reflect on your teaching practice.

Entry 2

In the Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education portfolio, there are two entries based on video evidence, one of which is "Entry 2: Demonstration Lesson" In this entry, you submit a 20-minute video recording that depicts how you engage your students in active career and technical learning. You also show how you use explanation, demonstration, discussion, and individual/ group follow-up and feedback to support students in their exploration and acquisition of a specific career and technical skill or a set of related skills. You submit a Written Commentary in which you describe, analyze, and reflect on how you use a demonstration lesson to promote student learning and inquiry.

Entry 3

"Entry 3: Fostering Teamwork" is the other Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education entry based on video evidence. In this entry, you submit a 20-minute video recording depicting how you engage two groups of three to six students in teamwork skills that parallel the expectations and requirements of a high-performance workplace. You demonstrate the strategies that you use to plan, implement, and guide learning experiences that promote and develop student teamwork. You also submit a Written Commentary in which you describe, analyze, and reflect on how you promote and nurture workplace-related teamwork.

Entry 4

In the Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education portfolio, the entry based on documented accomplishments is "Entry 4: Documented Accomplishments: Contributions to Student Learning" In this entry, you illustrate your partnerships with students' families and community, and your development as a learner and collaborator with other professionals, by submitting descriptions and documentation of your activities and accomplishments in those areas. Your description must make the connection between each accomplishment and its impact on student learning.

In addition to these four portfolio entries, six constructed computer-response exercises, taken at a designated assessment center to assess your content knowledge, need to be completed. One question from each of the following exercises needs to be addressed. You have no idea what question will be asked, only that it relates to the exercise. You are given 30 minutes to respond to each question.

1. Integration of Academic Studies with CTE

2. Advances in the Field

3. Exploring Careers

4. High-Level Skills or Processes

5. Employability Skills

6. Worksite Learning

Fewer than three percent of public school teachers nationally have attained board certification. The top three states nationally (by total number certified) are North Carolina with 17,957, Florida with 13,532, and South Carolina with 7,784. Pennsylvania (my state) ranks 20th, with 769 board certified teachers, but also ranks 15th this year with the number of new board certified teachers. Overall, this past year there was a 10.5% increase in the nation of teachers attaining board certification, for a total of 8,639 (www.nbpts.org/).

To put this in better perspective, of all Career and Technology teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, only 25 teachers have attained National Board Certification. (www.nbpts.org/resources/nbct_directory). To my knowledge, only two teachers in Pennsylvania have selected technology education as a cluster area.

One of the goals of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is for those teachers who achieved certification to be responsible for seeking out and providing assistance to others contemplating board certification. I am here to help any teacher along his/her journey.

The wait and anticipation of the score results is the most excruciating part of the entire process. When I was notified this past November that I attained national board certification, I felt elated and satisfied--this was a professional goal that I wanted to achieve both for myself and my daughter. The greatest benefit of participating in this process is that it forces one to become a better teacher. Being part of three percent of teachers nationally is an accomplishment that I am proud to reflect upon when the time comes.

References

Aguerrebere, Joseph A., CEO and President, NBPT. (n.d.). Video congratulations. Retrieved from www.nbpts.org

Duncan, Arne, U.S. Secretary of Education. (n.d.). Statement pertaining to Board Certification. Retrieved from www.nbpts.org

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. (2011). The architecture of accomplished teaching. Retrieved from www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/ national_board_certification

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. (n.d.). Purpose statement. Retrieved from www.nbpts.org

Technology Student Association. (2011). Mission statement. Retrieved from www.tsaweb.org/Our-Mission

Richard Colelli (NBCT) is 1(-12 Technology Education Coordinator and a Technology Student Association Advisor at Southern Lehigh High School in Center Valley, PA. He can be reached via email at colellir@slsd.org.

This article is reprinted from the TEEAP (Technology and Engineering Education Association of Pennsylvania) Journal, with permission.
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Author:Colelli, Richard
Publication:Technology and Engineering Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2011
Words:2236
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